SVP of Research and Advisory Practice
Next Street Financial - United States

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The Opportunity The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) is seeking an experienced and entrepreneurial leader to become its Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Research and Advisory Practice. This is an exciting opportunity to make a significant impact on urban economic and business development. The Director will lead the evolution and development of ICIC’s research agenda, design research and advisory projects to advance that agenda, and manage and grow the practice, its team, and its capabilities. S/he will work closely with ICIC’s senior leadership, Board and key thought partners, and manage key relationships with senior private- and public-sector leaders. The ideal candidate will bring exceptional relationship-building, project management and analytical skills, and a passion for urban economic development and revitalizing the business base of inner cities.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) is a non-profit research and strategy organization and the leading authority on U.S. inner city economies and the businesses that thrive there. Founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, ICIC offers a market based approach to inner city revitalization, benchmarking the business base of cities and their regions and offering strategic recommendations for enhancing that business base which build on the competitive advantages of the city and the strength of regional business clusters. ICIC’s unique knowledge about inner city success factors and thriving companies is developed from specialized urban networks; the development and maintenance of its own proprietary database which houses time series economic and demographic data for inner cities, their central cities and regions, and the United States; frame-breaking research; and the application of that research through high impact city or institution specific projects.

ICIC’s Research and Advisory Practice ICIC’s research and advisory agenda seeks to shape the practice of market-driven approaches to inner city economic development by directing business investments to the inner city and tying growth to sustainable jobs, incomes, and wealth for inner city residents. It seeks to align regional and inner city economic development strategies, and develop comprehensive approaches to growing economies. It identifies the clusters of industries with the highest potential for growth in the inner city and develops strategies to deploy the “levers” necessary to achieve that growth, including land use planning, workforce development, capital access programs, and business support services. Examples of recent ICIC research projects/papers that are transforming both the discussion and the strategies around urban economic development are: “Creating Equity: Does Regionalism Have an Answer for Urban Poverty? Can it?”; Capital Availability in Inner Cities: What Role for Federal Policy?”; “The Time is Right to Grow the Urban Food Industry”; “The Promise of Local Clusters”; “Anchor Institutions and Urban Economic Development: From Community Benefit to Shared Value”. These and other examples of the type of work that will be conceptualized and led by the Director can be found at .

ICIC’s research and advisory practice funders, clients and collaborators have included state and local governments, foundations, business and community organizations, corporations and anchor institutions. A typical project in a city will have as its outcome an economic development growth strategy for that inner city and will include (1) the development of a fact base through a mix of internal and external research, and rigorous quantitative and qualitative analysis; (2) the development and evaluation of strategic options for growth, often focused on one or more industry clusters which have the most potential for inner city job growth and business revitalization; and (3) the development of specific growth strategies for the inner city, again usually focused on a particular cluster or set of clusters and including the provision of actionable recommendations and the identification and resolution of key implementation challenges.

ICIC works with a variety of partners to deliver its research and strategy advice, including other research organizations, consulting firms, and academic institutions. Most recently, ICIC has entered into a strategic alliance with Next Street, an urban merchant bank and consulting firm and one of its long standing collaborators. While ICIC will continue to work with multiple partners, Next Street and ICIC are committed to leveraging their complementary expertise and experience together to accelerate and scale their impact on urban economies. The Director will be a key leader in shaping that joint strategy with Next Street.

Position Description Reporting to the CEO, the Managing Director of the Research and Advisory practice will be involved in every stage of managing and growing the practice, its team, and its capabilities. He or she will have responsibility for continually evolving the research and advisory agenda, designing research and advisory projects to advance that agenda, identifying and securing funders and partners to implement those projects, and managing all aspects of the practice’s project cycle from scoping through execution and successful conclusion—all in the context of ICIC’s overall thought leadership agenda. The Director will be a key leader in developing that thought leadership agenda, working with the ICIC senior team, the ICIC Board and particularly Board Chair Michael Porter, and its key partners. The Director is expected initially to build on the base of ICIC’s current research focus areas--replicating, linking and aligning the learnings and approaches developed in each area.. At the same time, the Director is expected to stay attuned to and, by continually evolving ICIC’s research agenda, be a leader in the evolution of thinking and best practice development in the fields of urban economic and business development.

The Research and Advisory Director will manage key relationships with senior private- and public-sector leaders. Strong and demonstrated research and project management skills as well as the ability to communicate complex data as insights and actionable recommendations to a wide variety of audiences are an absolute requirement. The position will be based in Boston and requires traveling.

Position Responsibilities ICIC expects that the successful candidate will make a significant leadership contribution to ICIC. Responsibilities will include:
  • Partner with ICIC’s Board, CEO and other members of the ICIC team, and its collaborators to develop ICIC‘s thought leadership and research/advisory agenda. Build and execute the research/advisory plan to implement that agenda;
  • Lead a team of highly-qualified and experienced professionals with technical competence in ICIC’s focus areas, and oversee their professional growth and development;
  • Maintain and build strong relationships with senior foundation leaders as well as executives in the private, public, and non-profit sectors; open new relationships to support ICIC’s work and generate follow-on work with existing funders and clients;
  • Design and oversee the delivery of Research and Advisory Practice projects and ensure that deliverables are of an exceptional quality and completed on-time and on-budget;
  • Continue to build out a network of relationships with external specialists who will both work with ICIC’s core staff to deliver research and advisory projects, and provide advice on ICIC’s overall research agenda;
  • Work with ICIC’s Dissemination and Engagement group to build a knowledge management system, and regularly share the findings from ICIC research, using external publications and conferences as well as all of ICIC’s vehicles for dissemination;
  • Share accountability with the other members of the ICIC senior leadership team for the successful development and execution of the organization’s strategy.

  • A Master’s degree in Economics, Urban Planning or Policy, or a related discipline is required; a PhD is preferred.
  • The successful candidate will have strong analytical and problem solving skills, including a thorough knowledge of standard techniques used in economic and financial analysis, and extensive experience analyzing markets and public/private economic and business development strategies;
  • The successful candidate will have superior project management skills. He/she will have had at least 12-15 years of progressively responsible experience with major engagements within a research, consulting, or policy firm, including leading a research team or major consulting engagements.
  • The successful candidate is entrepreneurial, ambitious, rigorous, and has superior leadership and team-building skills. He/she possesses the professional and interpersonal skills to work effectively with leaders from the public, private, and community sectors;
  • The successful candidate will have excellent verbal and written communications skills, including strong public speaking and presentation skills. The ideal candidate will be the lead author on one or more publications.
  • The successful candidate will have demonstrated success in securing national grants. Existing relationships with national foundations will be a plus.
  • Experience working with city governments and urban-based businesses and institutions is desirable.
  • The successful candidate should be passionate about urban economic development and revitalizing the business base of inner cities.

Note - Applications should include both a resume and cover letter

ICIC strives for an inclusive culture, and encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds and cultures.